Street Egohood: An Alternative Perspective of Measuring Neighborhood and Spatial Patterns of Crime

  • Young-An KimEmail author
  • John R. Hipp



The current study proposes an approach that accounts for the importance of streets while at the same time accounting for the overlapping spatial nature of social and physical environments captured by the egohood approach. Our approach utilizes overlapping clusters of streets based on the street network distance, which we term street egohoods.


We used the street segment as a base unit and employed two strategies in clustering the street segments: (1) based on the First Order Queen Contiguity; and (2) based on the street network distance considering physical barriers. We utilized our approaches for measuring ecological factors and estimated crime rates in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.


We found that whereas certain socio-demographics, land use, and business employee measures show stronger relationships with crime when measured at the smaller street based unit, a number of them actually exhibited stronger relationships when measured using our larger street egohoods. We compared the results for our three-sized street egohoods to street segments and two sizes of block egohoods proposed by Hipp and Boessen (Criminology 51(2):287–327, 2013) and found that two egohood strategies essentially are not different at the quarter mile egohood level but this similarity appears lower when looking at the half mile egohood level. Also, the street egohood models are a better fit for predicting violent and property crime compared to the block egohood models.


A primary contribution of the current study is to develop and propose a new perspective of measuring neighborhood based on urban streets. We empirically demonstrated that whereas certain socio-demographic measures show the strongest relationship with crime when measured at the micro geographic unit of street segments, a number of them actually exhibited the strongest relationship when measured using our larger street egohoods. We hope future research can use egohoods to expand understanding of neighborhoods and crime.


Streets Neighborhoods Level of aggregation Units of analysis Egohood Crime 



  1. Appleyard D (1981) Livable streets. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  2. Atash F (1994) Redesigning suburbia for walking and transit: emerging concepts. J Urban Plan Dev 120(1):48–57. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernasco W, Ruiter S, Block R (2016) Do street robbery location choices vary over time of day or day of week? A test in Chicago. J Res Crime Delinq 54(2):244–275. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Block RL, Block CR (1995) Space, place and crime: hot spot areas and hot places of liquor-related crime. In: Eck JE, Weisburd D (eds) Crime and place. Criminal Justice Press, Monsey, pp 145–183Google Scholar
  5. Boessen A, Hipp JR (2015) Close-ups and the scale of ecology: land uses and the geography of social context and crime. Criminology 53(3):399–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boessen A, Hipp JR, Butts CT, Nagle NN, Smith EJ (2017) Social fabric and fear of crime: considering spatial location and time of day. Soc Networks 51:60–72. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boruff BJ, Nathan A, Nijënstein S (2012) Using GPS technology to (re)-examine operational definitions of ‘neighbourhood’ in place-based health research. Int J Health Geogr 11(1):22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Braga AA, Clarke RV (2014) Explaining high-risk concentrations of crime in the city: social disorganization, crime opportunities, and important next steps. J Res Crime Delinq. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brantingham P, Brantingham P (1993) Nodes, paths and edges: considerations on the complexity of crime and the physical environment. J Environ Psychol 13:3–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brantingham P, Brantingham P (1995) Criminality of place: crime generators and crime attractors. Eur J Crim Policy Res 3(3):1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chamberlain AW, Hipp JR (2015) It’s all relative: concentrated disadvantage within and across neighborhoods and communities, and the consequences for neighborhood crime. J Crim Justice 43(6):431–443. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen LE, Felson M (1979) Social change and crime rate trends: a routine activity approach. Am Sociol Rev 44(4):588–608. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Colabianchi N, Dowda M, Pfeiffer KA, Porter DE, Almeida MJC, Pate RR (2007) Towards an understanding of salient neighborhood boundaries: adolescent reports of an easy walking distance and convenient driving distance. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 4(1):66. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coulton CJ, Korbin J, Chan T, Marilyn S (2001) Mapping residents’ perceptions of neighborhood boundaries: a methodological note. Am J Community Psychol 29(2):371–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Duncan DT, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Aldstadt J, Melly SJ, Williams DR (2013) Examination of how neighborhood definition influences measurements of youths’ access to tobacco retailers: a methodological note on spatial misclassification. Am J Epidemiol 179(3):373–381. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Felson M (1987) Routine activities and crime prevention in the developingmetropolis. Criminology 25(4):911–932. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Felson M, Boba R (2010) Crime and everyday life. SAGE Publications, CaliforniaCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Forsyth A, Van Riper D, Larson N, Wall M, Neumark-Sztainer D (2012) Creating a replicable, valid cross-platform buffering technique: the sausage network buffer for measuring food and physical activity built environments. Int J Health Geogr 11:14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Golledge RG, Stimson RJ (1997) Spatial behavior: a geographic perspective. The Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Groff E, LaVigne NG (2001) Mapping an opportunity surface of residential burglary. J Res Crime Delinq 38:257–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Groff ER, Lockwood B (2013) Criminogenic facilities and crime across street segments in Philadelphia: uncovering evidence about the spatial extent of facility influence. J Res Crime Delinq. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Groff E, McCord ES (2012) The role of neighborhood parks as crime generators. Secur J 25(1):1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Groff E, Weisburd D, Yang SM (2010) Is it important to examine crime trends at a local “micro” level? A longitudinal analysis of street to street variability in crime trajectories. J Quant Criminol 26(1):7–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guest AM, Lee BA (1984) How urbanites define their neighborhoods. Popul Environ 71(1):32–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guo JY, Bhat CR (2007) Operationalizing the concept of neighborhood: application to residential location choice analysis. J Transp Geogr 15(1):31–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haberman CP, Ratcliffe JH (2015) Testing for temporally differentiated relationships among potentially criminogenic places and census block street robbery counts. Criminology 53(3):457–483. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hipp JR (2007a) Block, tract, and levels of aggregation: neighborhood structure and crime and disorder as a case in point. Am Sociol Rev 72(5):659–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hipp JR (2007b) Income inequality, race, and place: does the distribution of race and class within neighborhoods affect crime rates? Criminology 48(3):683–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hipp JR, Boessen A (2013) Egohoods as waves washing across the city: a new measure of “neighborhoods”. Criminology 51(2):287–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hipp JR, Kim Y-A (2019) Explaining the temporal and spatial dimensions of robbery: differences across measures of the physical and social environment. J Crim Justice 60:1–12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Inagami S, Cohen DA, Finch BK, Asch SM (2006) You are where you shop. Am J Prev Med 31(1):10–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jacobs J (1961) The death and life of great American cities. Vintage, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Jacobs AB (1993) Great Streets. ACCESS Magazine 1(3):23-27. Retrieved from
  34. Kane K, Hipp JR, Kim JH (2017) Analyzing accessibility using parcel data: is there still an access–space trade-off in long beach, California? Prof Geogr 69(3):486–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kim Y-A (2016) Examining the relationship between the structural characteristics of place and crime by imputing census block data in street segments: is the pain worth the gain? J Quant Criminol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kim Y-A, Hipp JR (2017) Physical boundaries and city boundaries: consequences for crime patterns on street segments? Crime Delinq. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kubrin CE (2003) New directions in social disorganization theory. J Res Crime Delinq 40(4):374–402. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kubrin CE (2009) Social disorganization theory: then, now, and in the future. In: Krohn MD, Lizotte AJ, Hall GP (eds) Handbook on crime and deviance. Springer, New York, pp 225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lee BA, Campbell KE, Miller O (1991) Racial differences in urban neighboring. Soc Forum 6(3):525–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Logan JR, Collver OA (1983) Residents’ perceptions of suburban community differences. Am Sociol Rev 48(3):428–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oberwittler D, Wikstrom H (2009) Why small is better: advancing the study of the role of behavioral contexts in crime causation. In: Weisburd D, Bernasco W, Bruinsma G (eds) Putting crime in its place: units of analysis in spatial crime research. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Oliver LN, Schuurman N, Hall AW (2007) Comparing circular and network buffers to examine the influence of land use on walking for leisure and errands. Int J Health Geogr 6:41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Osgood DW (2000) Poisson-based regression analysis of aggregate crime rate. J Quant Criminol 16(1):21–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Park RE (1926) The urban community as a spatial pattern and a moral order. Urban Community 2:3–18Google Scholar
  45. Sampson R, Groves B (1989) Community structure and crime: testing social-disorganization theory. Am J Sociol 94(4):774–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sampson R, Raudenbush S, Earls F (1997) Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science 277:918–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sastry N, Pebley AR, Zonta M (2002). Neighborhood definitions and the spatial dimension of daily life in Los Angeles. In: Labor and population program working paper series 03-02 (p 35). Santa Monica, CAGoogle Scholar
  48. Sherman L, Gartin P, Buerger M (1989) Hot spots of predatory crime: routine activities and the criminology of place. Criminology 27(1):27–56. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Spielman SE, Yoo E-H (2009) The spatial dimensions of neighborhood effects. Soc Sci Med 68(6):1098–1105. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spielman SE, Yoo E-H, Linkletter C (2013) Neighborhood contexts, health, and behavior: understanding the role of scale and residential sorting. Environ Plan 40(3):489–506. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taylor RB (1997) Social order and disorder of street blocks and neighborhoods: ecology, microecology, and the systemic model of social disorganization. J Res Crime Delinq 34(1):113–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Timperio A, Crawford D, Telford A, Salmon J (2004) Perceptions about the local neighborhood and walking and cycling among children. Prev Med 38(1):39–47. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Warner BD, Pierce GL (1993) Reexamining social disorganization theory using calls to the police as a measure of crime. Criminology 31:493–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Weisburd D, Amram S (2014) The law of concentrations of crime at place: the case of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Police Pract Res 15:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Weisburd D, Bushway S, Lum C, Yang S-M (2004a) Trajectories of crime at places: a longitudinal study of street segments in the city of Seattle*. Criminology 42(2):283–322. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Weisburd D, Lum C, Yang S-M (2004) The criminal careers of places: A longitudinal study (N. I. o. Justice/NCJRS, Trans.) (p 112). Rockville, MD 20849: National Institute of Justice, US Department of JusticeGoogle Scholar
  57. Weisburd D, Groff ER, Yang S-M (2012) The criminology of place: street segments and our understanding of the crime problem. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wicker AW (1987) Behavior settings reconsidered: temporal stages, resources, internal dynamics, context. In: Stokels D, Altman I (eds) Handbook of environmental psychology. Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp 613–653Google Scholar
  59. Yang Y, Diez-Roux AV (2012) Walking distance by trip purpose and population subgroups. Am J Prev Med 43(1):11–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zenk SN, Schulz AJ, Mentz G, Lachance L, Robinson M, Odoms-Young A (2008) Food shopping behaviors in a multiethnic urban population: implications for measurement and obesity prevention. In: Conference presentation, annual meeting of the American Public Health AssociationGoogle Scholar
  61. Zenk SN, Schulz AJ, Matthews SA, Odoms-Young A, Wilbur J, Wegrzyn L, Stokes C (2011) Activity space environment and dietary and physical activity behaviors: a pilot study. Health Place 17(5):1150–1161. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminology, Law & SocietyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations